There’s something especially endearing about Burnout Paradise, which is precisely why the internet went into overdrive when rumors began to circulate of a remastered version, and then even more so once EA confirmed its existence. Now that it’s here, and releasing alongside two other remastered titles, I might add, does Burnout Paradise still have what it takes to stand out? Yes, yes it does. What makes Burnout Paradise Remastered such a relevant game in 2018, is that it brings back an experience that takes us back to the simpler side of racing. This is a game about speed and carnage, a game that gives you a wide open playground to do whatever the hell you like in it, and on that score, the fun factor hasn’t aged a day. It’s basic, it’s easy to pick up and play, and it’s relentless in its delivery.
Starting up the game will see you immediately thrown into Paradise City, and no sooner than you can blink, you’re free to go wherever you want. There’s no overarching plot to break up the pace of the game, there’s no awful cast to dilute the fun (I’m looking at you, Payback), and there’s no barriers put in place to force you down a specific route. Burnout Paradise is a huge bundle of arcade racing, and it’s every bit as engaging as it was a decade ago. That being said, design issues still persist, but not so much that it drags this game down from greatness, but we’ll get to that shortly. The game does a wonderful job at feeding you into the experience, giving you a firm understanding as to how the game functions. One such aspect is the licence system, which serves itself as a light progression system.
To begin with, you start out with a very low-end licence, a licence that can be upgraded based on your performance in the countless events within. Stoplights in Paradise City house several events that you can participate in, and if you can muster up the skill to win enough of them, you’ll get a bump to your licence. Not only does this give you something to work towards and focus on, but each new licence brings tougher variants of events, and typically rewards you with a new vehicle. Events include the likes of; Stunt Runs, Marked Man, Races, Road Rage, and more. One of the first optional events you will come up against is the Marked Man event, in which you’re tasked with getting to the finish point while several aggressive rivals are trying to wreck you out. It’s a truly thrilling white-knuckled experience that does well to set the mood of what lies ahead.
It’s also here, however, that highlights some of the game’s unavoidable issues. Burnout Paradise demands that you pay attention to the map to mark your own path, offering flashing road signals at the top of the screen as a means to chart the most basic route. This wouldn’t be so much of an issue if it wasn’t for the fact that diverting your eyes for even a moment is all it takes to plummet into the environment. It’s hard enough as it is to maintain a good position due to how speedy the gameplay is, but this design choice often proves to be more of a curse than a blessing. You’ll find yourselves bonding with this function after several hours of play, but those first several hours will provide heaps of frustration in the process. Frustration that’s only really alleviated once you familiarize yourselves with the map layout. Still, even with this baffling counter-productive setup, Burnout Paradise still manages to stand out.
What stands out especially here, even ten years since original release, is the sense of speed that the game fluidly relays. That’s not to mention the NOS boost that you can utilize frequently. This was my first Burnout experience, and although I’ve played a shed load of other racing games, I was genuinely impressed with how well Burnout Paradise maintains its addictive fast-paced nature. There’s nothing quite like tearing down the highway, maneuvering in and out of the way of oncoming traffic, and reaching your goal with mere seconds to spare. Despite how frustrating the navigation can be, I have to say that win or lose, I was having a blast. The crash physics are crazy, yet still somewhat satisfying to watch your failed attempt amount to nothing more than watching your car get wrecked in slow-motion in a wide range of different ways.
It helps, of course, that the controls remain sharp and concise throughout. The gameplay is smooth from the get-go, and despite the issue outlined above, you never feel like you’ve been robbed of your goal. Each and every mistake is nothing other than a product of your own failure or oversight, whether you misjudge a corner or screw up the opportunity to takedown a vehicle (to then obtain it), it’s all on you. Another standout feature for me is the soundtrack, and there’s plenty of them included here, many of which go hand in hand with the theme and mood of the game. In regards to the visuals, there’s certainly a notable improvement when comparing to the ’08 version. The improved lighting and textures do well to compliment the fresher look, but with the original game already being available through backward compatibility, investing in the remastered version really depends on how much you favor resolution and the added content.
There’s a great deal of content to work through, and above all else, this game comes with all of its previously released downloadable content, including Big Surf Island and Cops and Robbers. It doesn’t matter what event you’re participating in, the game remains massively entertaining and holds up well all of these years later. If you, like me, enjoy taking a breather from the main structure of a game and prefer to relax, Burnout Paradise has your back. The open world is full to the brim with added extras to soak up more of your time. Billboards, stunt ramps, and crash gates are littered everywhere, often in very hard-to-reach places. Smashing or utilizing these will go towards your overall 100 percent progression, which easily adds another ten hours of play into the mix. Throw in the addition of multiplayer on top of that, and there’s no denying whatsoever that you’re getting your content for value.
Burnout Paradise is already available through backward compatibility, however, if you’re yet to try out the original game, this remaster is certainly the definitive version of it. It looks great, it plays well, and above all else, it comes packed with heaps of additional content. With some minor issues to the side, this is one hell of an arcade racing experience.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.